News / Calgary

Calgary school boards use zero grades only as a last resort

Teachers are generally discouraged from giving a grade of zero to Calgary students, according to officials with the city’s two school boards.

This comes as an Edmonton schoolteacher appears primed to lose his job of 35 years for refusing to back down from marking goose eggs on the incomplete work submitted by some of his high school students.

Ronna Mosher, a director in the office of the Calgary Board of Education’s chief superintendent, said decisions on student assessment are laid out by school principals — the same practice is used in Edmonton — however, no CBE school she was aware of has outlawed zero grades. Instead, she said teachers will identify struggling students and work to help them find success.

“If it’s a problem that the student doesn’t understand (the material) then we need to address that, if it’s a time management issue then we need to address that,” Mosher said.

A Calgary Catholic School District spokesperson explained that board uses a similar process for student evaluation.

"It's generally a practice that's discouraged," Janet Corsten said.

Some parents have openly criticized the no-zero policy enforced by the Edmonton school Lynden Dorval was teaching at, claiming it does little to prepare students for the real world.

But the Alberta Teachers’ Association is refraining from advocating on the teacher’s behalf, noting Dorval did disobey a direction from his boss.

“Certainly this is an area that requires more research on our part,” said ATA President Carol Henderson, adding it is a teacher’s responsibility to adapt as classroom practices evolve.

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